Parents often ask me whether they should get a diagnosis of dyslexia after their child has qualified for special education services under the category “Specific Learning Disability.” The answer to this question is: “No, you do not need to get a diagnosis of dyslexia as dyslexia and a specific learning disability are basically two different terms for the same thing.” Here are some key points:

  • Specific Learning Disability (SLD) is the term used by educators and is the term used in the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA).
  • Dyslexia is the medical term used by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSMV-V).
  • Both Specific Learning Disability and Dyslexia are terms for when a person has a reading disorder.
  • Schools can diagnose a specific learning disability and provide intervention and special education services for a reading disability. Typically, the school psychologist and special education teacher will administer a series of standardized tests to determine if the student has a SLD.
  • Before diagnosing a SLD, the school based team must prove that low reading results are not due to a lack of research based instruction.
  • The same researched-based phonics type approach and interventions will be used whether the reading disorder is labeled dyslexia by an outside psychologist and a specific learning disability by the school. (That is, getting the extra dyslexic label won’t give you any services that are not provided for with SLD label.)

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any questions.